High Definition (HD) is gaining momentum and the resultant consumer awareness, offering a superior viewing experience – whether it is watching TV or enjoying your favourite Blu-ray Disk (BD) title.
HD TV sales are picking up together with the uptake of Blu-ray and the introduction of an HD channel on DSTV – HD is here to stay. However, like a piece of Lego, HD can only be viewed optimally when all the pieces work together as one cohesive unit.
According to Nelmari Claassens, Sony Pictures marketing manager, SterKinekor Entertainment, “To achieve a ‘home theatre’ experience, which is ultimately what HD delivers, you need a combination of technologies to gain the full experience.”
“For starters, an HD TV is essential as it offers an enhanced viewing
experience by delivering a higher resolution which translates to more dots
or pixels per inch resulting in a sharper, crisper picture.”
To full HD or not?
Now that we’ve established the need for an HD TV, how do you ensure that you
choose the right set?
Currently, there are two versions of HD TV’s out there; full HD with 1080p
(progressive scan) screen resolution and HD-ready which is either 720p
(progressive scan) or 1080i (interlaced).
More technically the two options’ screen resolutions work as follows: 1280
by 720 (720p), used typically by HD broadcasters such as DSTV’s recently
released HD channel, and 1920 by 1080, the highest resolution at about two
million pixels (used for 1080i and 1080p). However, you might find HD TVs
with other resolutions like 1024 by 768 and 1366 by 768.
Depending on the signal and your set, an HD TV either scales the picture to
fit the screen or leaves some pixels unused. At 720p, a set uses a
progressive scan, where every line of the picture is painted in each pass –
ideal for fast-motion video.
At 1080i (1080 interlaced) however the set paints only half of the lines on
each pass but offers better detail for static images. And this is where it
gets tricky – the bigger the set, the more important high resolution
If the screen is in a big room or less than 100 cm (40 inches) diagonally
you won’t see a major difference between 720p and 1080i. However, when the
set is bigger or the room smaller you’ll have to consider paying more and
opting for the higher quality version, in this case 1080p.
Explains Claassens, “Full HD offers sharper pictures and more detail, which
is ideal for Blu-ray movies. More of these high-end TVs are capable of
up-scaling the input signal resolution, thus enhancing picture quality.
However, users should note that up-scaling can only work as well as the
source signal it is supplied with.”
Ultimately, your choice is up to your budget and personal needs and
perception of the various resolution standards.
Do you really need HDMI cables?
To some, High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) might seem like just
one of many connections on their TVs or home theatre receivers. However, it
is so much more, essentially offering a set of rules for allowing
high-definition electronic devices to communicate.
Plainly put, it allows you to run both HD video and audio with a single
cable which mitigates the need for a myriad of cables split into different
components. Indeed, it features 19 wires wrapped in a single cable that
resembles a USB wire and enables a data transfer rate of 5 Gbps. This is
more than twice the bandwidth needed to transmit multi-channel audio and
video, future-proofing HDMI for some time to come.
Furthermore, HDMI supports standard video formats, enhanced video and
And surround sound?
“A surround sound system is the perfect partner to your HD TV and Blu-ray
player, completing the HD experience with equally impressive audio quality,”
In the case of 7:1, users have an extra two side speakers, typically
positioned between the front and surround speakers which further enhances
the surround sound experience.
Overall, a surround sound system, whether 5:1 or 7:1, offers an accurate
audio representation of the created audio picture / sound stage of a
specific movie. These systems provide the most realistic representation of
the production as intended.
Furthermore, watching a Blu-Ray movie without the sound is like waking up to
a beautiful Spring morning without hearing the birds sing; it’s just not the
It is, therefore, important to invest in the full package, if you will;
putting all the pieces of the Lego set together for the HD ride of a